A bold decision to run a risque campaign has paid off for Testicular Cancer New Zealand, which is now into their second year of encouraging people to draw giant penises in public.
The Go Balls Out campaign hit headlines around the globe when it was launched last year, and has amassed more than 4 million views on a video showing men how to self-check for signs of testicular cancer.
The campaign encourages supporters to trace the shapes of penis and testicles with their GPS – whether it be while running, walking, boating – or in one case, flying. Supporters around the world took to the campaign with glee, and the results have been widely shared on social media.
We catch up with Prostate Cancer Foundation chief executive Graeme Woodside about the successful social media campaign.
MOSH: How did you come up with the idea for the campaign, and how successful has it been so far?
GW: FCB came up with the campaign on our behalf. We thought it was a bit risque at first, but then thought, “Let’s be bold – let’s do it” – and it has been incredibly successful.
We featured on BBC, Huffington Post – it really went off internationally. FCB picked up a lot of advertising and marketing awards, including some Gold Lions at Cannes, and the little video for the self-check had over 4 million views.
MOSH: Why have you chosen to promote the campaign on social media?
GW: For us it has been a huge learning curve going totally social media and launching a new campaign, and not relying on traditional media as we do with our September campaign.
We were targeting the average man, and that’s the medium that they use. There’s a bigger strategy to the whole thing, because we want to get young guys aware of health issues, particularly men’s health issues.
The Breast Cancer Foundation have been very successful getting people to do self checking, and we want to do the same thing – getting guys aware that it’s a health problem they can address by getting them to check their balls.
MOSH: How do you evolve such a successful campaign to still be relevant and effective for another year?
GW: This year, we are doing texticles. Where people can text in for a $3 donation, that’s thanks to Vodafone. Again, we are seeing creativity there with people sending certain round emojis in pairs.
Our first aim though is awareness, fundraising is secondary. The original campaign, which FCB donated the concept and creativity pro bono, I think, was so successful people were excited to do it again this year and perhaps one-up each other, or get even more creative.
MOSH: Do you have any favourite or standout entries?
GW: The ones that appeal to me are where people look for a name of an area that’s got some connotations. So I really liked the one at Cox’s Bay Reserve, and the one on Ladies Mile. The other which stood out was a guy who flew a plane out over northwest Auckland. Oh, and the one around the Eiffel Tower.
MOSH: How have you seen this campaign break down stigma and open up conversation around testicular cancer?
GW: That’s our longer term strategy, which we believe will pay off. The idea is getting younger men aware of the health issue associated with testicular and prostate cancer. When you get to the men in their 40s, 50s and 60s, campaigns like this might not be as successful because men already have that blokey, tough mentality, and we are hoping to change that for the generation coming through.
We are trying to normalise guys checking themselves, and getting over the barrier where guys are a bit hesitant to talk about the health of their sexual organs.
We were anticipating we would get some backlash, but everyone was really supportive. Even when we went on the AM Show with Duncan Garner were were allowed to use the term “cock and balls” and we thought, “This is a real breakthrough” in the conversation around these health issues.
MOSH: What is your advice to others using risqué ideas to promote their causes?
GW: You’ve got to be bold, but you’ve got to be honest and real. What we were trying to do was appeal to the humour of young men, but it’s still real, it’s honest and has integrity.
It was a steep learning curve, but we found really good value in taking that risk. You can get a lot of bang for your back when you get something which captivates people and becomes a bit viral, you can get huge returns in numbers when you do.